Electronic Design

Class Notes: 2002 Inductees

Here's how many of our 2002 Hall Of Famers enjoy their leisure time and how they still give back to society.

In many ways, the leisure-time activities for last year's inductees into Electronic Design's Engineering Hall of Fame are just like those of our readers. But in other ways, the activities truly represent their creativity, vision, and genius. These gifted individuals also find numerous and varied means to give back to society and support worthy causes.

A common pleasure, for example, is spending time with family and grandchildren. Imagine, however, what it must be like to be the child or grandchild of one of these inventors, such as Ted Hoff, who spends his leisure time in his machine shop. Like many others, this designer of the first microprocessor enjoys assembling computers and adding peripherals, but he also has fun making toys for his grandkids. Four of his grandchildren, aged one to four years old, had fun with a bubble-making machine that grandpa created for them. "The children just love it. It produces tons of little bubbles," he says.

He equally enjoys encouraging them to think. He'll often ask them, "How are we going to solve this problem?" Hoff says, "We encourage them to think about it. We ask them, 'What should we do?'" That same concept is used at Camp Invention, a summer camp project of the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron. Hoff is on its board of directors.

Hoff's other leisure-time activities include helping to create a computer history museum in Silicon Valley. He's also involved with the creation of a technology museum in San Jose designed to make technology fun. And, his home machine shop will soon be expanded when he moves into a new house. Those growing grandchildren must be wondering what else is in store.

Or, imagine being the lucky granddaughter of Bob Mammano, developer of the first PWM controller. He's busy making her a doll house, or more accurately, a mansion. It's three stories high with eight large rooms. "I've been working on it for six months," says Mammano. "It keeps my evenings full." When he wants something more active, he participates in a hiking club or goes to his mountain place outside of Los Angeles. "I get a chance there to chop firewood and clear brush."

Industry-related activities include putting on a training program for power-supply design engineers. "We pass on knowledge to new design engineers. It turned out to be very successful. It provides resources and technical information. The textbooks we put together are collector's items for their future design work," he says. Mammano also speaks frequently at local IEEE meetings and plays an active role in its applied power electronics conferences. In November, he's scheduled to give an educational seminar at the Power Systems World Conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Dr. James Truchard, co-inventor of LabVIEW and co-founder of National Instruments, also focuses on making engineering fun for youth. RoboLab (a collaboration of NI, LEGO Dacta, and Tufts University) gives elementary students a chance to design and create robots using LEGO bricks and LabVIEW (standard engineering software), then shows them off at Robo Mania. While also involved in community art programs and physics, his personal interest is engineering education. He serves on the University of Texas Engineering Foundation Advisory Council and other groups examining the future of engineering education and research. When he wants to get away from it all, Truchard heads to his two-acre garden of herbs, cacti, native Texas perennials, flowers, okra, and two dozen varieties of pepper plants. Veggies are scarce, "because you have to be there when they ripen." Or, he may head to his wine cellar stocked with a gamut of wine types: chardonnay, syrah, zinfandel, and cabernet sauvignon, for example. But they're primarily from one winery: Truchard Winery, run by his brother.

With a good Italian name like Patrizio Vinciarelli, you'd expect this man to have a taste for good wines, which is true. "Yes, that is one of my pastimes. Red wines extend your life," emphasizes the inventor of zero-current and zero-voltage switching technologies. He and his wife enjoy a tradition passed down from generation to generation in the family—having a good wine with a meal. His wines of choice are, of course, Italian. "I like Italian wines like Chianti because I can drink it without waking up with a headache the following day. With French wines, I always have a headache," he says. Naturally, he also enjoys returning to his native country of Italy. Much of Vinciarelli's leisure time, though, is spent trying to keep up with his five-year-old son. "Right now he's upset because I couldn't play golf with him. He likes to play in the kitchen where the floor becomes the green," he says.

Another wine connoisseur is TCP/IP's co-developer Vinton Cerf. He just finished pounding together 22 wine racks to hold 3000 bottles of wine from around the world: sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, white burgundies (especially the montrachets), shiraz and blends from Australia, cabs from Napa/Sonoma, brunellos and tiganellos from Tuscany, and reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero from Spain. His favorites are 1970 BV Georges Latour Estate Reserve, 1953 Latour, and the 2000 Le Montrachet. He combines that pastime with another: reading science fiction (authors Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Hal Clement, Orson Scott Card, Robert L. Forward, Keith Laumer, James White, E.E. Smith, J.R.R. Tolkien); and history and biographies (Michael Beschloss, Winston Churchill, Stephen Ambrose). Cerf also collects stamps and coins. Non-profit boards he's on include the Folger Shakespeare Library, Gallaudet University for the Deaf, plus the Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He and his wife sponsored a project to close-caption BBC videos of Shakespeare's plays. Yes, he has needed hearing aids since he was 13.

Chuck House, father of the logic analyzer, spends a lot of time with his grandkids, too—all 10 of them. They ski, hike, and visit historical places. Two years ago, the gang toured Italy and made it into a big scavenger hunt related to their heritage or other interests. "Next year, everyone's going to Kauai, Hawaii, and in 2006 we'll celebrate my wife's 60th in County Cork, Ireland, with 60 people... depending on how many grandkids there are!" he says. Other interests: restoring old houses and restoration of an old arboretum, local park board member, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, and Council of Scientific Society Presidents. And then there's an alumni group of retired professionals—chemists, engineers, physicists, geologists—that work to influence higher education degrees, government funding, and university funding issues. "The National Research program is what we concentrate on. The big question is whether there is global warming or not, but if so, what can we do about it? There are a lot of initiatives we've tried to get people at the National Academy of Science to focus on."

Since Walt Jung finished editing a new book for Analog Devices in 2002, called Op Amp Applications, he has retired. He says that this book, a compendium of what can be done with op amps (with some history thrown in), was one of his more significant tasks. He is now enjoying more time with his grandchildren and also has time for more reading (mostly spy novels by David Baldacci), hiking, and POOGEing (Progressive Optimization Of Generic Electronics) audio equipment. He says people who do the latter are called "poogers, i.e., tweakers that modify audio equipment to do something it didn't do before." Jung has also established a donor-advised charitable fund targeted toward local charities, schools, and fire departments.

An even more recent retiree, Bernard Gordon, known as the father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion, established the Gordon Foundation. The foundation has made substantial contributions to Tufts University and funded the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education at the National Academy of Engineering. The NAE prize, now given annually instead of biennially, honors the teachers who are advancing engineering and technology education by creating novel methods—or reinvigorating older, established methods—to motivate and instruct the next generation of leading practicing engineers. One half of the prize money goes to the individual (or individuals) who develops the innovative curricular designs and teaching and learning methods that demonstrate impact. The other half is directed toward further implementation of the educational program itself and the possible expansion of the program to other academic institutions. The $500,000 grant is made possible by a gift valued at approximately $14 million from the Gordon Foundation to the NAE.

The Gordon Foundation also supports several professorships, including the Gordon Institute at Tufts for developing engineering leadership skills. It's also reached out to the medical community. "Last year we gave a substantial contribution to the Lahey Clinic. It's one of the largest medical institutions in Massachusetts with 4000 patients per day," says Gordon. "It's noted for doing 'extreme' surgery, such as replacing hearts and livers." Although semi-retired in September, Gordon plans on still contributing with new ideas based on "the concept that something new can be done depending on the available state of the art." However, the man who was on the team that developed the world's first commercially available digital computer also says, "When not dreaming up new solutions, I hold my wife's hand; it's very useful to make up for all the missed times in the past."

Humor, encouraging youthful artists, and talking with three dogs take up the leisure time of Al Shugart, retired pioneer of floppy-disk technology. "I'm very close to a Monterey group called YAC for Youth Activity Collective. It helps budding young artists and poets with after-school art classes. Mostly, I spend my leisure time talking to my dogs. We communicate quite well together," he says. He has Sophia, a white German shepherd; Moses, an apricot-colored poodle ("He's the smartest one," inserts Shugart. "I'm sure if I gave him a cell phone, he'd use it."); and Tristan, a two-year-old, 203-pound Irish wolfhound. "From tip to toe, he's seven feet. You know it if he steps on your toe," says Shugart.

His humor activity comes in the form a weekly cartoon about Ernest, a Burmese mountain dog, and Calvin, a basset hound who was the dog's campaign manager when it ran for congress. The artist is Meg Biddle, who runs the YAC program. Shugart supplies half the cartoon's ideas. A recent cartoon had a long line of people in front of a building, with the last person asking if it was an unemployment line. The reply, "No, it's the registration line for the California gubernatorial race." Shugart, who recently turned 73, says of his life: "I'm alive and not in jail. That's two good starts!"

Several honorees spend time on their Web sites. The co-creator of C language, Dennis Ritchie, enjoys family reunions at a summer place in the Poconos, but he also spends "a fair amount of time looking at historical stuff in the labs, collecting old papers," and then putting them on his home page, www.cs.bell-labs.com/who/dmr/. (He advises just going to Google and typing in Dennis Ritchie.)

Hans Camenzind's Web site, located at www.arraydesign.com, is a manual for a series of integrated circuits he designed. "The largest chapter is a complete textbook on analog IC designs. It's a teaching tool. I don't think there is another textbook like this. It's very practical and updated every two months." The site's worth is evident in the downloads and e-mails: 2000 downloads and 50 to 100 e-mails a month. The designer of the 555 timer, the highest-volume IC, answers them all. "It takes quite a bit of time, but it is enjoyable."

Through her Web site, Lynn Conway, a pioneer of microelectronics chip design, helps a "special, very misunderstood and highly stigmatized community: young people who suffer from gender identity dysphoria (GID)." The Web sites are:

  • www.lynnconway.com
  • http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/Conway/TS/TS.html
  • http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/Conway/TSsuccesses/Tssuccesses.html

The sites provide information and assistance on many aspects of gender transition and link to many other supportive Web sites. "The sites help people anticipate problems and understand day-to-day issues. With proper support, counseling, and assistance, many people who need to resolve these inner conflicts are able to transition very successfully," says Conway.

She has also posted more than 130 success stories and photos of people from around the world with a variety of careers and backgrounds who have successfully gone through gender transition. "Young people can find role models here. Many connect by e-mail and share their stories and experiences. The social, personal, and medical problems of transition can be fairly overwhelming. Success stories help young people and their families learn that if they need to do this and work hard at it, they too can be successful."

There have also been changes in the business world with her example and help. "Companies like Intel, HP, Apple, and IBM have learned it is not something that is going to be a disaster and are now supportive of gender transitions. After all, why discard someone who could be a real contributor?" she says. For Conway, exercise and travel are typical favorite past times.

Paul Brokaw, who says his title of Fellow at Analog Devices means he's a "technical mischief maker," swims every day. Not just a couple of laps either. Typically, it's 118 lengths in Tucson's public pool. That's slightly more than a mile and half. The inventor of a bandgap voltage reference technique also enjoys visiting friends in Brazil and Europe. It's a pleasure he squeezes in among global trips to give presentations and crash courses in electronics. "It's fun and I get to meet a lot of people." His little cocker spaniel, Mr. Big, goes along on many of those trips. The pet has flown so much, Brokaw says the dog has frequent-flyer miles! But Brokaw is also looking forward to learning more about the area around Tucson since his move there a few years ago. "There are some new caves opening up that I'm looking forward to seeing," he says.

Working out at a gym several times a week keeps Bob Dobkin, developer of the first three-terminal adjustable linear regulator and first three-terminal adjustable LDO (low dropout) regulator, on top of his game. But he also enjoys less strenuous pastimes like walking with friends, movies, concerts, and staring at the ocean from the cliffs of his Santa Cruz beach house. Oh, and there just happens to be this nearby nudist beach, but we'll skip over that.

Dobkin also enjoys organizing lecture programs for colleges. Last year he helped organize lectures at San Jose State University for a course on analog circuit design. Speakers came from his company, Linear Technology, along with experts from Analog Devices and National Semiconductor. He put together 30 lectures by eight different people. In addition, he has lectured at many different universities and sits on a committee that sets the direction for the electrical engineering school at San Jose State. When he's not busily managing his business or doing any of the above, you just might spot Dobkin cruisin' in his restored 1967 Continental convertible or BMW Z8.

Writer and speaker Bob Pease, who is a recognized analog guru, says the writing and speaking engagements, as well as being the "Dear Abby of the electronics racket" (you can send him an e-mail at [email protected] with your real-world questions), don't give him any leisure time. When he really needs to get away, he'll head to Nepal where he enjoys trekking for a month at a time: "Trekking is like hiking, but porters carry the packs and set up the meal. It's just beautiful countryside. It's mostly empty and quiet. The snowy slopes of AmaDablam in the Himalayas are most beautiful to walk around. It's fun to do and I get to meet nice people. Nepal is cluttered with nice people all over the place," he says. If you can't reach him in April, wait a month.

Pease, who built the first adjustable negative regulator, wrote another book outside of the engineering field. After having several friends die in accidents, he decided to write a book about "how to drive into accidents and how not to." He's sold several thousand copies and also given them away to "the unlucky loser who most recently drove into an accident." He explains that "We have to drive assuming everyone else on the road is crazy." Pease also supports charities and regularly donates blood and platelets. His key to not crashing after donating blood: Eat one-and-a-half candy bars beforehand.

Robert Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet and developer of Metcalfe's Law regarding the value of a network, enjoys camping on Maine Island, his children's sport events, and biking. With both seriousness and a sense of humor, he notes his ways of giving to society as being a trustee for MIT and by paying taxes.

"I spend time with my wife and son," says Jim Williams, designer of hundreds of fundamental application circuits who perfected the art of getting the maximum performance from high-performance amplifiers and data converters. "It really doesn't make any difference what we do, although skiing is more fun than taking out the garbage together!" Williams squeezes in some reading time into his hectic schedule. "I love to read The New Yorker magazine to see what's going on in the real world. That's the only fiction I read because the writing is so good." He also supports medical programs, especially cancer research.

Outdoor activities are a favorite of John Birkner, co-developer of programmable-array logic technology. "I've had a great summer visiting friends and relatives, being on Mount Shasta in northern California. It's a mountain wonderland with lots of lakes and (snow) skiing. In the summer I enjoy kayaking on the lakes and streams during overnight campouts," he says. He's also enjoyed seeing Crater Lake in Oregon.

This fall is a bittersweet one for him: He's just sent his daughter off to college. Birkner was heavily involved with a very successful fundraising project for her school this year. He created an online auction Web site. "We made a small Ebay and got parents and students and small businesses to donate items. We raised lots of funds for the school," he says. It raised enough money to buy 25 computers for the school and support other programs. He's gearing up to have another auction this year and also is getting requests for a similar program from other schools. "I'm thinking of making it a non-profit product to assist schools in fundraising," says Birkner.

Music plays an important part in the lives of many inductees, too. It's not unusual for Jeff Kodosky, co-inventor of LabVIEW and co-founder of National Instruments, to have 60 guests in his home for a fundraising concert. These concerts benefit musical organizations from chamber music to classical guitar.

Kodosky actually enjoys a variety of performing arts productions—ballet, symphony, opera, the Houston Grand Opera, and the NY Metropolitan Opera. A personal favorite is a local choral group called Conspirare. "It means 'to breathe together.' It's an exquisite choral group," says Kodosky.

That love of music has Kodosky serving on the boards of several performing arts groups: Austin Lyric Opera, Armstrong Community Music School, and Austin Community Foundation, which donates to community-based arts, cultural, and health organizations in Austin and central Texas. "As part of that, we make visits to charities. It's a very moving experience to see the effect these people are having, even though they are usually working on a shoe-string budget," says Kodosky.

Another love of Kodosky's is education. He's involved in several non-profit education-based organizations, including the board of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in N.Y., College of Natural Science at University of Texas, and the advisory board for MathWorks. "My favorite project in education is UTeach. It's a teacher training program in natural sciences at UT Austin. It has been phenomenally successful. It's probably the first of its kind for teacher training for middle- and high-school science and math teachers," says Kodosky. It lets undergraduates teach in a high-school classroom what they just learned about supply chains and math at the college level. "It lets them try out teaching and see what it is like. We're finding the best and brightest students are getting enthused and their test scores are higher. By all measures, the program has exceeded our expectations. More than 300 students are in the program this semester. Still, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the need for such teachers."

Having two daughters, Kodosky and his wife also support other charities like Girl Scouts and Girl Start. The latter is a local program to promote science to secondary-age girls, encouraging them in the science and technology fields. His younger daughter accepted that challenge and is studying for a master's degree in neurobiology with plans to enter veterinary school. The older daughter has given Kodosky another leisure activity: entertaining two grandchildren with reading, walks, and doing puzzles. "We have a grand old time,"says Kodosky.

Writing music and poetry are Barrie Gilbert's relaxation choices. "I like to rearrange sonatas for orchestra or wind ensemble. I have a studio with a dozen synthesizers. I write music for a virtual orchestra."As a 60th birthday present, his wife upgraded the grand piano she'd given him years back as a wedding present. The new one lets him record to a medium and play it back, so he writes the music upstairs and takes a floppy downstairs to hear it on his grand piano.

"I like quite a bit of modern music, but it has to have some substance, something I can get my teeth into. So much of modern is wallpaper. It doesn't mean a thing. What attracts me most is classical. Haydn is full of wit and is clever. Mozart really is not serious. A lot of it was scatological," he says. Domenico Scarlatti and his 500 harpsichord pieces are favorites. "It's very, very witty stuff. It's pure pleasure."

Writing music is similar to designing circuits, says Gilbert. Each has a pattern and purpose with movement toward a high point of tension. The last Beethoven sonata sheet music, he says, is "extraordinarily simple. He takes this theme and develops it into profound, moving music. Similarly, good circuit design appears to be very simple and obvious, but it is a distillation of painstaking thought, clipping of things that don't matter, and clever use of topologies to do a major function with minimum movements."

"Music is about the human condition," he says. "In all good music, there is a reason for it. It's an expression of us, and likewise technology is a reflection of the human spirit, of how we as humans develop our environment different from the animal world. Technology is about serving a human need."

And that is poetry.

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